The three sectors of advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, and urban solutions and sustainability were chosen for their high potential for growth, as well as their economic and social impact.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
The three sectors of advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, and urban solutions and sustainability were chosen for their high potential for growth, as well as their economic and social impact.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Deep tech start-ups may get $100m boost in Singapore

Tech July 15, 2017 22:44

By The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE - This is half the funds in Govt's Startup SG Equity scheme; hunt now on for co-investors



Up to half of the funds in the Startup SG Equity scheme could be set aside for start-ups working in the sectors of advanced manufacturing and engineering, health and biomedical sciences, and urban solutions and sustainability.

That could mean around $100 million going to what are known as deep technology firms exploring opportunities in these areas, Spring Singapore's investment arm announced yesterday.

Spring Seeds Capital is on the hunt for co-investment partners and will match their capital injections into business models built around proprietary technology or research.

Foo Tiang Lim, an operating partner at venture capital firm Seed Plus, said: "The reality for start-ups working on solving problems in the areas identified is that the gestation period is too long. That means having more support in terms of patient capital will be crucial."

It was announced in March that about $200 million would be set aside for Startup SG Equity. The programme replaced Spring Singapore's Business Angel Scheme, where the Government matched investments dollar for dollar, up to $2 million.

Under the new scheme, Spring Seeds Capital will sink up to $4 million in each deep tech start-up. It will chip in 70 per cent - or $350,000 - of the first $500,000 invested, with its partners accounting for 30 per cent, or $150,000. Spring will then co-invest 50 per cent of any further funds injected, up to its limit of $4 million. This is twice as much as what general tech start-ups can get. Co-investment partners will be expected to help early-stage start-ups through commercialisation.

The three sectors were chosen for their high potential for growth, as well as their economic and social impact, Spring said.

Matthew Waterhouse, chief executive of additive manufacturers 3D Matters and 3D Metalforge, welcomed the initiative: "Funding (needs) for deep tech companies tend to be higher... so targeting these home-grown sectors for extra support makes a lot of sense."

Theodore Tan, co-founder and managing director of biomedical incubator The Biofactory, added that co-investment is just the first step for deep tech and called for start-up bourses as a fund-raising alternative to venture capital."People should be able to take that risk," he said.

Spring's call for partners opens next Tuesday and runs until Aug 25, with briefings for interested parties next Wednesday and Friday.